Former Palos Verdes swimmer to swim across Santa Monica Bay

Former Los Angeles County Lifeguard and Palos Verdes resident Amy Gubser swims across Monterey Bay. Her husband Greg, also a former Los Angeles Lifeguard and now the San Mateo Deputy Harbormaster, drove her escort boat. Photo by John Chapman

Pacific Sea Nettle jellies carpeted the Monterey Bay during Amy Gubser’s swim across the bay in 2017. 

Amy Appelhans Gubser is celebrating her 50th birthday by swimming across the Santa Monica Bay, from Point Dume to Palos Verdes. The former Rolling Hills High School and Peninsula Aquatics swimmer plans to enter the water at 8 p.m. on Thursday June 7 and arrive at the beach below the Palos Verdes Beach Club between 10 a.m. and noon on Friday. The 27 mile swim will be a training swim for her attempt to swim the North Channel, the veteran marathon swimmer said. The North Channel is the strait that separates Ireland and Scotland. It is considered the most difficult of the Ocean Seven Marathon Swims.

Unlike the Santa Monica Bay, the North Channel is too cold for sharks. But it does have seven-foot-wide Lion’s Mane Jellies, the largest jellies in the ocean. Their toxin-filled, 190-foot tentacles and the 50 degree water are the primary reasons 80 percent of swimmers who attempt to swim the North Channel fail.

“The Santa Monica Bay will be like a bathtub compared to the North Channel,” Gubser said. Santa Monica Bay temperatures are in the low 60s.

Last September, Gubser swam across the 25-mile wide Monterey Bay. In 2016, she swam the 22-mile wide Catalina Channel. In 2015 she swam the 10-mile wide Strait of Gibraltar, between Spain and Morocco. She also swam the length of the icy, 21-mile-long Lake Tahoe in 2015.

On the Santa Monica Bay swim, Gubser will be escorted by her husband Greg Gubser, a former Los Angeles County Lifeguard and by retired Los Angeles County Lifeguard Shannon Davey, of Hermosa Beach. The two will be paddling kayaks. Michael Chandler, of El Segundo, will skipper the escort boat.

The Gubsers and children Justin and Holly live in Pacifica, a small beach town just south of San Francisco. The two met as teens in the Los Angeles County Junior Lifeguard program and founded a junior lifeguard program called Surf Camp Pacifica when they moved north. Amy is a  Pediatric Intensive Care Unit neonatal nurse. Greg is the Deputy Harbor Director at Pillar Point Harbor in San Mateo.

Only two people have completed the 27 mile swim across the Santa Monica Bay. On March 16, 2013 marathon swimmers Jen Shumaker and Forrest Nelson departed from Point Dume in Malibu and finished at Lunada Bay in Palos Verdes in 13 hours, 10 minutes, 35 seconds. ER


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